Holtz Center funds thematic research cluster to investigate the implementation of clean energy in Wisconsin communities

Solar panels and windmills
Solar panels and windmills

It is with great excitement that we announce that LSC Professor and Chair Dominique Brossard and Ph.D. Student Mikhaila Calice are among the recipients of a research cluster grant from the Robert F. and Jean E. Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies!

The Holtz Center awards this grant each year to a thematic research cluster that intends to advance research, teaching, and outreach on interdisciplinary topics within science and technology studies. The thematic cluster of their choosing receives two years of funding to support their project.

This energy cluster, led by Brossard, will also include Assistant Professor Morgan Edwards (La Follette School of Public Affairs), Assistant Professor Sarah Johnston (Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics), Professor Greg Nemet (La Follette School of Public Affairs), Professor and Dean Paul Robbins (Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies), Scott Williams (Wisconsin Energy Institute), and Professor and Chair Paul Wilson (Department of Engineering Physics).

“I am so glad that the Holtz Center decided to support our proposal, and I am looking forward to working with such a high-powered and disciplinarily diverse set of colleagues on this project,” says Brossard.

In Wisconsin, there is a formal statewide goal to reach 100% clean energy by the year 2050. To meet this ambitious goal, it will be necessary for Wisconsin to consider the adoption of new clean energy technologies. This energy cluster aims to explore the social and technical complexities associated with implementing new technologies for resilient, community-based energy management.

Nemet adds, “the thrust of this effort is on supporting and learning from interactions among stakeholders, including community leaders and technical experts – this could only be done with such a broad set of faculty expertise.”

To do so, the energy cluster plans to host two workshops that will be held at UW-Madison over the two-year lifespan of this energy cluster. These workshops will bring together a range of stakeholders to conceptualize both the technical and the social-political feasibility of community-based energy systems and management in Wisconsin.

The first workshop will focus on conceptualizing possibilities for the future of community-based energy. The plan is to bring together a range of professionals and thought leaders in energy as well as community energy leaders from across the country to discuss energy technologies now and ten years from now and their impact on the feasibility of community-based energy.

The second workshop is geared towards a more local approach, focused on understanding the values, public sentiment, and feasibility of adopting new energy technologies to meet clean energy goals in Wisconsin communities and the mid-west region. Similar to the first workshop, the plan is to bring together a range of local professionals from the energy industry with community leaders. The goal of this workshop is to discuss what technologies are most feasible for certain communities to meet clean energy goals and what barriers and incentives exist to influence the adoption of community-based energy programs.

“Our project will provide invaluable insight into how Wisconsin communities can be at the forefront of innovation in the clean energy transition” comments Calice. “I am personally very excited about this project because of the opportunity to do applied research that could impact new energy technology adoption in Wisconsin.”

“The goals of this energy cluster embody the Wisconsin Idea. This project will also serve as an opportunity to involve undergraduate and graduate students in an issue that is important to our state and beyond,” remarks Brossard.

We are very excited to see this project develop as we continue to implement the Wisconsin Idea. Congratulations to the entire team on this award!